As we build the Beloved Community, we pray for you every day that you might continue to bring it about in your little corner of the world.
Today's Meditation is a reflection by Joan Chittister on what happens when a loved one dies. Don't miss Maya Angelou and Dietrich Bonhoeffer below Joan's letter and the poem "Ride a Wild Horse" and our Holy Happenings as The Spirit of Life Community.
We invite you to join us as we commit ourselves to working tirelessly to end systemic and structural racism in our society, in the church, in healthcare, in the workplace--wherever it shows up so that everyone may come to have more abundant life. May this meditation nourish our contemplative-active hearts and sustain all of us in action.
In the spirit of our philosophy of co-creating community and our awareness that the Spirit speaks through each of us, we invite you to share your meditations with us as well. We truly believe that it is God's economy of abundance: when we share our blessings, our thoughts, our feelings, we are all made richer.
We hope and pray that you find peace, healing, hope and the infusion of joy in your life!
With our love and care,
Ron and Jean
MEDITATION: Joan Chittister: When a Loved One Dies
In her reflection on death, Sister Joan reflects on how the living must learn to cope with the loss of a loved one, to cope with the realization that 'nothing else is ever quite the same.' Read more here.
Empty times for everyone
What is worse than the actual event of death is the awareness of the degree of loss that comes with it. Simply announcing that someone has had “a peaceful death” does nothing to dampen the pain of it. When the death is a violent one, the deprivation—the sense of having been able to do nothing to have stopped the pain—burrows down into the center of the soul dark and endless.
The question now becomes, how is it possible to go on? How is it possible to compensate for, let alone replace, what has been lost? What is now denied the lives of those whose own life depended on the deceased in ways far beyond the economic, far beyond the mere matter of getting through the day, is not only irreplaceable, it is paralyzing. It is enough to stop the natural flow of life completely.
And then, too, what about the person whose life has been cut off, like black twine in dark night? What about the dead dream that can never now be completed? What happens to those who dreamed it together or trusted in its coming, whatever it was? These are empty times for everyone. These are times that crush spirits and stop hearts, abort plans and blur visions deeply. Life hollows out, one way or another, for everyone concerned. These are times that stretch faith in life to the break point. These moments suspend time for everyone
Violent death, natural or not, haunts us at night and plagues us during the day. It stops time at the moment before the loss. It suspends us in an orbit of pain. Now what? What can possibly fix the lives that are left to mourn the dead who die out of time and at the hands of the uncaring, the indifferent, the institutionalized lackeys of the system?
Entire lives of multiple people can become disoriented by the loss of a loved one. Death is about far more than simply the life of the deceased. It marks in every life the moment after which nothing else is ever quite the same.
The call to us at a time when great pieces of the future crumble in life is not so much to faith as it is to hope. Depression is the seedbed of hopelessness, the loss of surety that life must still somehow be full of good, however impossible it is to remember it, to see it, to trust it at this moment. Hope does not tell us that soon life will be the same again as it was before the loss. No, hope tells us that life will go on, differently, yes, but go on nevertheless. Hope tells us that the pieces are there for us to put together, if only we will give ourselves to the doing of it.
When Jesus dies on the cross, something entirely different rises. And that something is the call to us to make the best in life live again.
—from The Way of the Cross: The Path to New Life (Orbis) by Joan Chittister
What's New: April 3, 2023
New Audio BlogJoan Chittister’s latest audio blog is about purity of heart and singularity of purpose. Click here to listen to her reflections, which touch on the ever-changing nature of life today, and the story of another sister’s faithfulness to her ministry.
Sister Joan on Climate ChangeJoan Chittister was quoted by Bishop Gretchen Rehberg, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane, in a recent column urging people to remain hopeful as they work against climate change. She notes that Sister Joan teaches, “one tiny act of courage can bring hope alive.” Click here to read the full piece.
Gateway to ResurrectionWith Good Friday fast approaching, you may want to revisit Joan Chittister’s contemporary Stations of the Cross. Available now as a digital download, for only $2, these stirring reflections by Sister Joan, paired with beautiful batik illustrations, will guide you through the Triduum with new depth.
Benetvision Staff Member on Economic JusticeLinda Romey, OSB, a longtime member of the Benetvision staff, recently wrote an article in Global Sisters Report, addressing the potential that women religious hold to challenge capitalism and use their resources in more just and imaginative ways. Click here to read the full piece.
SOUL POINTSApril 3: April is National Poetry Month in the United States. Find a way to celebrate this year: You might sign up for a poem-a-day service like this one from Knopf Doubleday Publishing or you could write thirty poems in thirty days, on your own, or with encouragement and prompts from your own writing community or from the National Poetry Writing Month website. Or you may want to celebrate the month by sharing some of your favorite poems with your friends and family. Poem-in-Your-Pocket Day, at the end of the month, is an opportunity to share a favorite poem with people you meet all day long. Click here to read more about it.
April 4: “Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently,” wrote Maya Angelou, who was born on this date in 1928. Angelou was a prolific author, poet, and journalist, as well as a Civil Rights activist. Her seven memoirs, detailing her struggles, traumas, and mistakes as well as her travels, family relationships, and successes, were highly influential, and she was described by literary scholars as “America's most visible black woman autobiographer,” paving the way for other black women and people from marginalized communities to tell their stories.
April 8: Tonight at the Easter Vigil the community will light the Easter fire. We will be filled up finally with the story of salvation and the glory of what it means to have our once empty selves filled with all the goodness of life, all the vision, all the glory of life. We will know again that being monastic in mind, being single-minded about life, being given to one thing and one thing only—the glory of God—has all been worth it.”
—from A Monastery Almanac, by Joan Chittister
April 9: “The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children,” wrote Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was hanged in Flossenbürg concentration camp on April 9, 1945. Bonhoeffer had a brilliant theological mind and was committed to a vision of Christianity that could stand firmly against evil. Disenchanted with the way that established Churches in Europe succumbed to Nazism, Bonhoeffer was active in the resistance to the Third Reich. Many Churches venerate him as a modern-day saint and martyr.
LET'S DO JUSTICEPartners in Health, the nonprofit organization that provides healthcare in the most impoverished parts of the world, is working hard to offer life-saving medicine to people in Haiti. Officials now speculate that up to 90% of Port-au-Prince is controlled by gang, and Partners in Health is facing the worst threats to its staff and patients that it has seen in forty years. They are asking for donations to provide for the most basic and essential kinds of medical supplies. Click here to help.
POEM OF THE WEEK
Ride a Wild Horse
Ride a wild horse
with purple wings
striped yellow and black
except the head
which must be red.
Ride a wild horse
against the sky
hold tight to his wings
Before you die
whatever else you leave undone
ride a wild horse
into the sun.
— Hannah Kahn